Locke Pitches Gators past Dawgs

On a day when Florida's 20th anniversary NCAA College World Series Team was recognized in pregame ceremonies, junior Stephen Locke registered his first career complete game to lift the Gators to a 7-2 victory over No. 5 Georgia. On his second weekend start of the year, the left-hander (3-2) scattered eight hits and allowed two runs in going the distance.

UF's (26-16/11-9 SEC) win squared the weekend series at McKethan Stadium and ended the Bulldogs' (29-13-1/15-4-1 SEC) 12-game unbeaten streak in league action. It also snapped an eight-game home slide to UGA dating back to April 27, 2002.

Senior Jon Townsend (1-for-3) matched his season high by driving in three runs and sophomore Matt den Dekker was a perfect 3-for-3 and swiped a career-high three stolen bases to improve to 14-for-14 on the basepaths this season. Georgia junior Stephen Dodson (5-2) suffered the defeat after yielding five hits and five runs in four innings.

"Anytime you play a quality team like Georgia, you're going to have to be on top of your game as Stephen (Locke) was this afternoon," head coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "I thought we played great defense but the biggest key to the game was getting off to a good start in the first inning. Locke went one, two, three in the first and set the tone by throwing strikes and keeping them off balance. I thought Teddy Foster did an outstanding job behind the plate. They've been together for four years and Teddy has a real good feel for what Locke can do. They don't try to trick people. They stay within what they can do and stay to their strengths. Teddy deserves as much credit as Stephen today."

"We had a good game today and were able to bounce back from last night," Locke said. "We got the lead early and the defense played great behind me. Being able to have a complete game takes a lot of pressure off of our bullpen. Tomorrow's a big game, so hopefully I put us in a position to have some fresh arms."

The Gators seized a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI grounder by Townsend. den Dekker reached on an infield single with one down, stole both second and third and came home on Townsend's ground ball to third base.

UF erupted for four runs on four hits in the fourth to create a 5-0 cushion. Freshman Josh Adams and sophomore Cole Figueroa opened the frame with consecutive singles and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by senior Brandon McArthur. den Dekker was walked intentionally to load the bases and the move back-fired when Townsend roped a two-run double into the right-field gap. A passed ball allowed den Dekker to come across and senior Bryson Barber cranked an RBI double into right field for a 5-0 lead.

A two-out single by senior Ryan Peisel in the fifth narrowed UGA's deficit to 5-1. Freshman Lyle Allen started things off with a base-hit up the middle before the Gators turned their SEC-leading 52nd double play of the season on sophomore Joey Lewis' grounder. Consecutive singles by sophomores Matt Cerione and Michael Demperio was followed by Peisel's knock up the middle. Locke had senior Matt Olson fly out to strand the runners.

Sophomore Justin Earls replaced Dodson prior to the home part of the fifth and walked sophomore Avery Barnes and Adams before Figueroa moved his teammates over with a sac bunt. McArthur lofted a sacrifice fly to straightaway center field to score Barnes and den Dekker stroked an RBI single to give the Gators a 7-1 lead.

Junior Gordon Beckham, the nation's home run leader, launched his 20th with two down in the eighth to finalize the 7-2 margin. Florida held a slim 9-8 advantage in hits and had three double plays. McArthur had a pair of sacrifices but his 12-game hitting streak came to and end with a 0-for-2 performance. Junior Patrick Keating (7-0, 2.68) will pitch the rubber game at 1 p.m. against Bulldog junior Nathan Moreau (1-1, 4.50)

Courtesy UF Sports Information

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